Judges behaving badly

Law-ScaleAndHammerTwo crooked Philadelphia judges were acquitted of all charges, and four even more crooked judges were acquitted of some charges, on Wednesday.

A federal jury in Philadelphia this morning cleared six former judges in the Philadelphia Traffic Court of most charges in the long-running ticket fixing case (see previous story).
The verdicts were mostly “not guilty,” although four of the judges were convicted of lesser charges in what amounted to a wholesale rejection of the prosecution’s case.
Former judges Michael Sullivan, Mark Bruno, Michael Lowry, Robert Mulgrew, Thomasine Tynes, and Willie Singletary were cleared of conspiracy and ticket-fixing.
However, four of the judges — Lowry, Mulgrew, Tynes, and Singletary — were convicted of lying to authorities about the administration of so-called “consideration” for certain connected VIPs in traffic cases (see related story).

Now, how can we call them crooked judges, if two of them walked and four more beat most of the rap? Well, because the defense used a pretty good defense for a Philadelphia or other urban jury: the old,” sure they’re crooks, but that’s just how things are done here, not crime-crime.”

But the jury apparently found that the alleged ticket-fixing was not a federal crime.   That was part of the argument made by defense attorneys, who conceded that mistakes were made by the judges and there may have been ethical lapses, but there was no federal crime.

via Six Phila. Traffic Court Judges Acquitted of Most Serious Charges « CBS Philly.

Crooked, crooked, crooked judges. Give government power, and people in government will be corrupt with it. Every. Single. Time.

But hey, that’s just “How we do it here in Philadelphia.”

5 thoughts on “Judges behaving badly

  1. HSR47

    From what I’ve heard from various sources, it’s extremely likely that Bruno really doesn’t deserve to be lumped in with the corrupt Philly judges. It’s important to note that Bruno is a judge from West Chester who for years has done duty as a reserve traffic court judge in Philly one week per year (so that the Philly judges can take their vacation time). The discovery process for this case revealed that “business as usual” pretty much came to a screeching halt during that week every year. That alone is significant.

    In essence, he was accused of “fixing” two tickets; In one case he dismissed the charges, in the other case there is no real evidence that the ticket was actually “fixed” (the defendant was found guilty both by Bruno, and later on appeal). This much is backed up by local news sources which in turn were drawing directly from court documents: http://www.phoenixvillenews.com/article/PV/20130603/NEWS01/130609985

    Onto the hearsay: From what I’ve heard, the first case basically boiled down to a defendant who was apparently told by the PD that fighting the ticket would risk points (if he lost), but that if he didn’t fight it, he wouldn’t get points (and this is a common enough practice to be believable*). As the story goes, he didn’t fight it, but ended up getting stuck with points. Thus, in the interest of fairness (and/or keeping the police honest) he sought advice from one of the regular judges who said that he’d look into it. The result of that defendant’s appeal was that he was found guilty of an offense that did not carry points.

    In the second case, there is no evidence to suggest that the not guilty verdict was the result of anything other than Bruno’s judgement of the facts before him.

    *Especially for things like violating the speed limit, the local PDs generally go after people going 15+ over (a violation which carries points), and give the driver the choice: Don’t fight it and get written up for less than 15 over (no points), or fight it and get charged with doing more than 15 over (points).

    1. Bill K

      And it’s also been online recently, though I can’t find the source, that many local PDs lobby to set speed limits excessively low compared to actual (85th percentile operating speed) behavior. Some local PDs are actively bucking state & national trends to legalize what the population actually does by raising certain speed limits, so that these PDs can maintain an important source of income. And some of these PDs are losing the local battles as the natives are getting sufficiently restless.

      To be obstreperous, I’d say there are certain circumstances when “That’s how we do it here in Philadelphia” might be a good thing, particularly when certain teetotalers disobey certain legislation that is too extensive for the legislators to even read it before they find out what’s in it.

      Shorter version: “Sure they’re crooks, but since they’re our [local] crooks, they have to care what we think.”

        1. Bill K

          Yes-sirree indeed! Great find, Hognose. Your Google-fu beats mine. And until the video, I hadn’t heard of the Solomon Curve, though it’s graphed quite handily in Wikipedia.

          And to confess, I am the chief of sinners whenever the sole justification for some non-obvious legality is a man in blue hollering, “IT’S THE LAW!” That pushes my Rebel button like no other.

  2. Expat

    I had an employee who hailed from a very small eastern state. Back in the day he ran afoul of the law and was represented by a mob connected attorney who was paid by the mob for his services to my employee. Said attorney wound up chief justice of that state.
    A local politicking DA got wind of it and decided to go after the judge. He hauled my employee back to jail to make him talk. Well, he clammed up and when he got out said he had just a great time of it in the pen. Good food and dope and all the protection he needed. Seems the movie Goodfellas isn’t too far off.
    You guys enjoy it out there in the East.

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